The Elementary E.G.G. Program Impact on Agricultural Literacy and Interest

2020-05-05T15:20:22Z (GMT) by Danielle Marks

This thesis examines the Elementary Educate Gain Grow (E.G.G.) program and its impact on student agricultural literacy and interest in relation to the program’s pilot classroom implementation. The overall shortage of graduates pursuing careers in the poultry industry was the motivation behind the program development. The gap between industry demand and the potential entering poultry workforce may be linked to low awareness and interest relating to poultry science. This is particularly true in the egg industry. As consumer and legislature demands continue to affect egg production practices and demand for eggs continues to grow, it is especially crucial for consumers to become more aware of industry practices. One way to increase awareness may be to include educational resources within the K-12 system that are designed to increase awareness and interest in the industry. By integrating poultry science into required academic standards, students are given a real-world context to apply STEM skills. This has the potential to improve the learning experience and stimulate student interest and awareness. Such resources have the potential to promote future student engagement in poultry science opportunities. Therefore, the Elementary E.G.G. program was developed as an integrated STEM and poultry science curriculum with five online modules, a supplemental interactive notebook, an embedded simulation game, and a final team project as a resource for upper elementary teachers and students. All content and materials were developed between fall 2018 and summer 2019 and were made available to 480 Indiana 4th and 5th graders (13 teachers, 19 classrooms) across 8 different school districts in the fall of 2019. The program was designed for a ten consecutive day STEM unit starting with online modules (days 1 to 5) and followed by a team project (days 6 to 10). There were three overall research questions to assess the impact of the Elementary E.G.G. program: 1) what was student agricultural literacy before, during, and after program implementation; 2) did the program have an effect on student situational interest; and 3) what was the teacher perceived value and effectiveness of the program as an education resource.

Chapter One provides a literature review outlining past research that provided background for the development of the Elementary E.G.G. program.

Chapter Two describes the experimental methods and results of the piloted Elementary E.G.G. program and how it impacted student agricultural literacy through evaluating three content assessments and student notebook responses. Additionally, we discuss teacher feedback, collected at the completion of the program. Quantitative data was collected to assess student poultry knowledge prior (pre-program), during (post-modules), and after implementation (post-program) using 14 multiple choices questions focused on module content. The questions were administered online using Qualtrics (Qualtrics, Provo, UT). Only student data that was completed correctly across all assessments and notebook responses from student’s in corresponding classrooms to the other assessments were used for analysis. Student notebook responses from 10 corresponding classrooms (52.63% response rate), were deemed usable for analysis since these classrooms had students who correctly completed all assessments and qualitative data from notebook responses could only be matched to classrooms not individual students. Student content scores (n=111; 23.13% response rate) were analyzed using an ANOVA post hoc Tukey’s test with SPSS Version 26. Content knowledge scores increased from 7.99 (SD=1.85) during the pre-program assessment to 9.76 (SD=2.44) post-modules (p < 0.0001). Student notebook responses provided qualitative data of their agricultural literacy development throughout the modules. Student responses from the useable 10 classrooms (n=172; 35.83% response rate) were inductively coded to reveal patterns that supported increased student agricultural literacy related to each module’s predetermined learning objectives. The increase in content scores along with student identification of learning objectives support the program’s ability to increase student agricultural literacy. Teacher feedback (n=9; 69.2% response rate) indicated that teachers agreed that each of the components (modules, notebook and team project) supported the program objectives and the majority reported that the program encouraged student participation and interest. We concluded that the E.G.G. program increased student content knowledge of the poultry industry and was a viewed as an implementable curriculum by teachers.

Chapter Three shares the program’s procedures and results in relation to student situational interest during the program’s implementation. A pre-program questionnaire assessed student individual interest scores while post-module and post-program assessments evaluated student situational interest (n=111; 23.1% response rate). Increased individual interest scores (3.57± 0.10) may indicate a higher likelihood of having situational interest stimulated (scale: 1 to 5 with 1 having no interest and 5 having the highest level of individual interest). Results support that the online modules and the team project stimulated student situational interest because total situational interest scores, in addition to each individual subscale (i.e. attention, challenge, exploration, enjoyment, and novelty), were above a two on a four point Likert scale (scale: 1 to 4 with 1 having no situational interest during the activity and 4 having situational interest fully induced). Previous validation of this assessment interprets subscale or total scores above a two to represent that students are experiencing situational interest during the activity in question. Attention, challenge, novelty, and overall situational interest scores were significantly higher during the team project compared to the online modules (p < 0.01) while exploration and enjoyment subscales were similar. Student interest themes, coded from their notebook responses, showed interest in the modules’ learning objective topics with students demonstrating repeated interest in egg and hen anatomy and animal welfare. Overall, student situational interest was stimulated by the Elementary E.G.G. program, with overall interest highest during the team project compared with the online modules. Furthermore, students self-reported having interest in topics aligned with the modules’ learning objectives and inductive coding of responses found reappearing themes of interest relating to hen anatomy and animal welfare.

In conclusion, the results from the pilot Elementary E.G.G. program support that an integrated STEM and poultry science elementary curriculum has the potential to increase student agricultural literacy and can successfully impact student situational interest by engaging in purposefully developed activities. Further research is needed to adopt a framework across other poultry science sectors at a national level and improve accessibility of materials to a wider target audience. Additionally, improvements in program compliance may aid in increasing response rates of such research and are needed to increase transferability of findings.